What is “the sabbath”

One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples began breaking off heads of grain to eat. But the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look, why are they breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?” Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you ever read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God (during the days when Abiathar was high priest) and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. He also gave some to his companions.” Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”

Mark 2:23-27

God is the first to rest and declare rest essential (Genesis 2:2-3).  So essential that it becomes a top ten “must do” for the nation of Israel (Exodus 20:8-11).  When they experience calamity because it’s not a priority (Nehemiah 13:18) their leaders begin to enforce it through thirty-nine prohibitions (Mishnah Tractate Shabbat 7:2).  In this passage, Jesus and his disciples are confronted by the Pharisees because “threshing” is one of those no-no’s.

Jesus reminds the leaders that the idea of Sabbath rest was given by God for our benefit.  They had seen Sabbath through the lens of a God who responds in anger – “if you don’t keep the Sabbath, God will not be happy.”  Jesus presents them an image of God who created Sabbath with loving motives – “Sabbath is made to meet the needs of people.”

Intentional rest is a statement of faith in God. That we are limited and that He is in control as our creator, provider, sustainer.  That as much as we were created to work what He has given us – we were also created to stop and enjoy it too.  That we require rest to be refreshed, rejuvenated and recharged.

As one prone to work, I am learning to trust God more and rest because it’s how He designed me to operate in perfect balance.  It means I have to stop doing things and cut things out of my calendar.  I’d encourage you to consider how you might too.

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